The Orlando Magic made short work of the Washington Wizards in their first regular-season game at Amway Center, leading by as many as 35 points in their 112-83 blowout to kick off the 2010/11 campaign. Dwight Howard led four Magic players in double-figure scoring with 23 points, Vince Carter scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half to set the tone, and Orlando rolled. The easy win allowed coach Stan Van Gundy to rest his stars in preparation for tomorrow night's contest against the Miami Heat, which in turn led to some strange lineup combinations late in the game, with point guards Jason Williams and Chris Duhon sharing the backcourt in one alignment, and Ryan Anderson getting some burn at small forward as well. Top overall draft pick John Wall shot 6-of-19 in his NBA debut, which didn't impress, but his speed and playmaking (9 assists to 3 turnovers) showed promise for a dismal Washington team missing crucial offensive options Josh Howard and Gilbert Arenas.
|Team||Pace||Efficiency||eFG%||FT Rate||OReb%||TO Rate|
|Green denotes a stat better than the team's 2009/10 average;|
red denotes a stat worse than the team's 2009/10 average.
The Magic won this game with superior talent and execution, and it's hard to find fault with Van Gundy's assertion that "our halfcourt defense and our rebounding is what won the game." The Magic grabbed 93.3 percent of available defensive rebounds, 67.9 percent of overall rebounds, and only allowed the Wizards 23 shots in the painted area.
Despite the large final margin, the Magic still have plenty to work on. They missed two-thirds of their three-pointers, shot 56.3 percent from the foul line, and committed 21 turnovers for 29 Washington points. "We have to take care of the ball better," Van Gundy said.
Orlando scored at will inside, getting 56 points in the paint on 28-of-36 shooting. Washington lacks an intimidating shot-blocking presence--though JaVale McGee is certainly athletic enough to develop into one eventually--and its perimeter defense proved fatally porous. Talking about Carter setting the tone? He drove through the lane on the Magic's first possession and flipped in an effortless layup. To further that point, Orlando scored its first 20 points either in the paint, on the foul line, or from beyond the arc. The Wizards offered no resistance. Overall, the Magic shot 18-of-21 at the rim, according to HoopData.com.
It's hard to evaluate the team's offense against such a weak defense, but if nothing else, the Magic showed the additions they made to their playbook over the summer are here to stay. Rashard Lewis shifted to small forward for a few minutes tonight, and commanded double-teams in the low post on more than one occasion. "When Coach told me I was going in [at small forward]," Lewis said, "I was excited because I knew that they had a small lineup out there. Gave me a couple post-up plays so I was able to score."
Additionally, the horns set, which Eddy Rivera explicated earlier this week, got the Wizards scrambling and created some very interesting angles for the Magic to exploit. This team is going to be a tough cover, especially when Carter and Jameer Nelson are clicking to such an extreme degree. The starting backcourt combined for 35 points on 14-of-20 shooting, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, and just 2 turnovers. Both spent the entire game on the attack, with Carter driving to score and Nelson driving to create. And the threat of that creation has helped Nelson to add a fairly new weapon to his arsenal: the pull-up, turnaround jumper along the baseline after driving the lane and keeping his dribble alive. Trailing defenders tend to sag off here.
Nelson's backup, Chris Duhon, wasn't too shabby either. He earned Subway Sub of the Game Honors for his 7-point, 3-assist performance, and he didn't miss any of this 3 shot attempts. Duhon's an expert pick-and-roll operator, with 2 of his dimes going to a diving Marcin Gortat for open, crowd-pleasing jams.
Orlando put the exclamation point on the victory in the third quarter by running the offense through Howard inside. He scored on five straight possessions, capping that stretch with a pretty jump-bank shot which drew the loudest cheers of the night. This shot didn't rattle around and bounce in; it banked off the board and directly into the hoop. And on the Magic's next possession, the threat of the jumper froze Wizards defender Hilton Armstrong, which allowed Howard to drive and draw contact. He missed the free throws, though, to no one's surprise.
Quentin Richardson was the lone Magic starter not to reach double fiures, but he had a quietly effective game. He made two of the three shots he attempted in 26 minutes, but also grabbed 7 rebounds and dished 5 assists. His ability to make quick, accurate post-entry passes from the perimeter will aid Howard tremendously.
Though Anderson played more minutes overall, it was Bass who got the call first. Van Gundy said he wanted to match Bass up with Andray Blatche, which he did. Blatche had a horrid game, shooting 2-of-9 from the floor for 6 points, but it's hard to credit any of the Magic's defenders for that poor showing. Blatche limited himself tonight with poor shot-selection.
Cartier Martin was the only Wizard who played consistently well tonight The undrafted Kansas State product led Washington with 17 points on 5-of-9 shooting and made the most of his opportunities coming off the catch.